2020 Otis Environmental Author Elizabeth Rush

Pulitzer Prize finalist Elizabeth Rush’s residency at Blake has been rescheduled for Jan. 18-21, 2022. Rush, Blake’s 2020 Philip Otis Environmental Author, was unable to visit campus last spring due to the pandemic. Students on all campuses and the wider community will hopefully have an opportunity to hear her speak in person next year. 

An engaging presenter, Rush addresses timely issues such as climate change, sea level rise, environmental justice, vulnerable people and vulnerable land. In her highly acclaimed “Rising: Dispatches from a New American Shore,” she writes about the language and realities of climate change. And, having spent time in vulnerable communities on U.S. coastlines and in Asia, she speaks to the need for new environmental narratives.

Rush teaches non-fiction writing at Brown University and has taught at The Loft in Minneapolis. Her other work includes “Still Lifes from a Vanishing City: Photos and Essays from Yangon, Myanmar” and several books for children, “I is for Indonesia,” “H is form Hanoi” and “M is for Myanmar,” made in collaboration with artists local to those communities. As the National Science Foundation’s Antarctic Artist and Writer, Rush spent 50+ days during 2019 in Antarctica with a team of scientists from the U.S. and Great Britain.  

Established in 1997, the Philip Otis Environmental Authors Program promotes environmental literacy at the school through a biannual visit from a distinguished author whose work involves environmental themes and grant allocations for professional development, new curriculum planning, resources or classroom experiences that further environmental literacy.

This past December, Blake’s first Otis Environmental Author, Barry Lopez, died at his home in Eugene, Oregon. Former faculty members Jan and Lee Woolman, who coordinated the program’s first several author visits, credit Lopez with much of its enduring success. 

“He was so helpful, so conscientious and so kind to us,” Jan remembers. “He recommended [the second visiting author] Terry Tempest Williams because he knew her and was certain she would be conscientious. She accepted and was terrific, and then she recommended [the next author] Linda Hogan...Lopez was important in the history of the Otis program, and his death is a great loss to the world of environmental authors.”